Devina Joshi

BlackBerry Playbook: The world in your 'jacket'?

The tablet series launched by BlackBerry will work on the baseline, 'Work smarter. Play Harder'.

Research In Motion (RIM) India, better known as the company that owns BlackBerry smartphones, has unveiled its tablet device, the BlackBerry Playbook, in India. Positioned as a portable 'fits in your jacket' kind of a lifestyle tool that is set to make the lives of its users easier on the move, the Playbook shall be sold in India at a price point upwards of Rs 27,990.

As is common knowledge, the tablet market is a fairly new one in India, and the launch of the Apple iPad was among the first which sparked off a series of other brand launches in this space, including Dell's Streak, Acer's ICONIA series and Samsung's Galaxy Tab. The tablet essentially tries to combine the best of a laptop with a smartphone, offering quick web browsing, multi-media options, videos, songs, chatting and other business as well as entertainment options.

BlackBerry Playbook: The world in your 'jacket'?
The Playbook allows for synchronisation with an existing BlackBerry smartphone device for surfing and other functions. It also has Wi-Fi capabilities for non-BlackBerry smartphone users.

In a chat with afaqs!, Krishnadeep Baruah, director, marketing, RIM India, further elaborates on the road ahead for the Playbook, starting with the category itself.

"People today wonder if they really need a tab," he shrugs, "and there are many such fence sitters who do little about their need to be connected, whom we need to target."

RIM has a two-fold strategy to achieve this: the first is to create awareness about the availability of the Playbook based on its unique features of portability (with a 7-inch screen and 425g weight), and compatibility with BlackBerry handsets and other Bluetooth devices. To do so, it is important to ensure that consumers get to experience the look and feel of the product - over 250 stores across India contain demonstration kiosks to meet this purpose, to begin with. With the official launch, around 700 stores across eight cities in India shall contain experience zones or demo booths to get people to touch and try the product.

"Word-of-mouth and user experience helped us create BlackBerry smartphones as a brand and we hope to achieve the same with the Playbook," says Baruah. Experiential marketing in-stores shall be the key to this effect.

Apart from launch events to create buzz, a print campaign will also be leveraged. In fact, 14 days ago, a pre-booking offer was released in print media, with ads talking of the benefits and special premium accessories/prizes one can avail if one pre-books the Playbook before its official launch. The idea was to drive people to the BlackBerry Playbook microsite and give them a demo of its features, and also, through SMSes, get them to find out its availability in the store closest to them.

The company plans to continue the heavy print advertising in the coming weeks.

RIM has also tied up with key radio stations in the top eight cities, and will leverage radio jockey (RJ) mentions, wherein the RJ will talk to users of the Playbook who managed to pre-book the device, and interact with them on their product experiences.

On the digital platform, too, display banner ads have been created with the objective of driving people to the Playbook microsite. Twitter updates by RIM, too, have the same objective. A fan page for BlackBerry on Facebook has been used to drive people to send SMSes to pre-book their tablets, with discussion forums on user experiences. The page currently has more than 85,000 fans.

On the OOH front, RIM has captured the New Delhi and Mumbai airports with comprehensive branding across kiosks, innovations on escalators, floor stickers and huge displays on LCD screens (around 64 screens in the Delhi airport alone).

Further, RIM has tied up with Croma outlets at these airports, and innovations on the escalators prompt those waiting for their flight departures to go and try the Playbook while they kill time. RIM hopes this converts into purchases for the Playbook.

Eventually, television advertising, too, is on the cards.

The BlackBerry Playbook is positioned on the premise 'Work smarter. Play Harder'. The target group for the Playbook will be young professionals, aged upwards of 23 years. "While positioning it solely as an entertainment device is a tempting thought in the tab category, BlackBerry has always been about reaching out to the 'consumer' that resides in a professional," says Baruah. Hence, even with the Playbook, BlackBerry hopes to target a mix of the enterprising man and the consumer who wishes to be a pro at what he does.

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